Woman Coffey, Essiena (Essie)

Community worker, Filmmaker and Singer

Written by Caitlin Stone, The University of Melbourne

Essie Coffey (née Goodgabah) was born in New South Wales in 1942. She was co-founder of the Western Aboriginal Legal Service, a representative on both the New South Wales Aboriginal Lands Trust and the New South Wales Aboriginal Advisory Council, and a member of the first Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

Her film, My Survival as an Aboriginal (1978), was the first documentary to be directed by an indigenous woman. It won the documentary section at the Sydney Film Festival in 1979. In 1993, she made the sequel My Life as I Live it.

In 1985, Essie Coffey was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Aboriginal community. She died in 1998.

Archival Resources

National Film and Sound Archive

  • Coffey, Essie: Interviewed by Martha Ansara, 1992: Oral History, c. 1992, 276680; National Film and Sound Archive. Details

Published Resources

Newspaper Articles

  • Ansara, Martha, 'Bush Queen Focused on Inequality', The Australian, 9 January 1998, p. 11. Details
  • Hogan, Christine, 'Essie Coffey Aboriginal Film Maker Born Free', The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June 1979, p. 3. Details

Online Resources